Friday, September 21, 2012

Your Mug-Shot on Professional Networking Sites

I have to admit, I'm often intrigued and sometimes curious as to how people choose their profile photos.  One would assume that whatever profile photo you apply to Linkedin will not be the same photo you use on Facebook or any of the multiple dating websites.  However.... lately I've seen so many sultry looking photos on Linkedin that I'm starting to think people are using it for purposes other than business!
I'm sure you've seen them: those campy photos of women, taken at home, often in the bathroom, shyly looking up into the camera through a vail of thick lashes, throwing that "come-hither" look, hair flowing, cleavage showing...and while these images certainly will work in the person's favor on, is that really the image you want to project into the workplace?
I suppose were I twenty years younger - I might've thought it appropriate (probably not)... but now that I'm in my late 40's trying to look sultry is the least of my worries. I'm pleasantly surprised if I appear awake and chipper in my photos.
I'm sure there are a few men out there that will disagree with me, however if women want to be successful in business they must also gain the respect and support of other women in their marketplace.
I'm not stodgy by any means. A cute picture of you and your dog will pass if you don't have anything businessy. Here are a few other examples that you may want to steer clear of:

1.  Photos of you with your children: Actually this one can go either way,  showing you're a family person is great but it can also be used against you if you're seeking a job where some employers will make assumptions that you can't be dedicated to your job due to your personal responsibilities.
2.  Glamour Shots:  Those of you in your 30's and older should remember these.  They were the height of fashion and coolness in the early 90's...  now they're the fodder for talk shows like Ellen.
3.  Beach bikini shots:  unless you're a model which most of us aren't
4.  Party(ing) Photos: Nothing says professionalism like photos of you and your friends completely sh*t-faced. (Nothing says professionalism like using the term sh*t-faced, but it seemed to fit)
5.  Photos of your Car, Boat, Mc-Mansion, Motorcycle:  If you aren't a car/boat/real estate dealer, a financial motivational speaker or a MLM guru.. it just looks plain egotistical.
6.  Pics of your pets: If you're in the animal industry by all means, if not and your potential employer thinks that your breed of dog (or cats in general) are the devil's spawn... you know where I'm going with this....
7.  No Pic at all:  This is the second best option.  If you don't have a good professional picture opt for no picture at all.  This might also be the best option if you are missing your front teeth.
8. Cartoon Characters: If you work for Pixar or Disney this is completely acceptable.
10. Government Party Affiliations: (or religious symbols etc) Many people are inspired to put their party's symbol or candidate's picture in their profile.  While this is fine for facebook, any site you utilize for business should be void of your political opinions unless your job is directly involved with politics and the same goes for religious affiliations etc.
11. The Out of Focus TOO CLOSE pic: This is the type of pic that people question if they forgot to put on their glasses.  The photo is out of focus, often the subject is blurry or too close to the camera. 
12.  The (I cut other people out of this photo- )well mostly: You've seen those photos where the ex or friends or co-workers or family has been hastily cut out, usually their arm or part of their face still lingers in the photo.  It always leaves me wondering who the person was and how they feel about being hacked out of the photo.  If the only great photo you have of yourself is with others, either include them or have more photos taken of yourself.
13. The 1980's Pic: This involves any picture that is more than 10 years old.  Your college graduation date and/or prior work history on your profile clearly give away your age,but your photo is a picture of you when you were 20 yrs younger... the polyester suit and turtle neck are also a dead give-away.
14. Random photos of mountains or flowers or wild animals or or OR: Everyone loves nature but putting these pictures in your bio when they aren't somehow related to your profession makes it look like you're part of the witness protection program and trying to remain incognito.
15. Fishing, Jogging, Hiking, Biking, Yoga Poses etc:  Unless you're a physical trainer or an outdoors man (woman) don't include exercise photos.  It's like you're trying to make the rest of us that are tied to our desks feel inadequate.  No, that isn't my inadequacies talking. 
and finally: 
16.  The "Guns & Ammo" Photo: Unless you're in the military or one of our "nation's finest" - having a picture of yourself at target practice or grippin' your AK like its your girlfriend is likely to get you investigated - not employed.

Good Ideas for Social - Business Networking Profile Photos:
Company Logos, Professional Pictures, Work related Photos (that do not involve alcohol - see #4), Industry related icons, no picture at all.

And for gosh sakes... SMILE!  If you look angry, grumpy or sad in your photo who is going to want to do business with you?

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